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Former Real Madrid player ALFREDO DI STEFANO died on Monday at age 88 in Madrid's Gregorio Marañón hospital, according to J.L. Guerrero of AS. Di Stefano, appointed an honorary president by Real in '00, "had been hospitalized since Saturday following a heart attack." The "world of football is tinged with grief over the death" of one of the "best footballers in history." Di Stefano "was the most successful player in Real Madrid's 111-year history -- and this is not an opinion, it is a fact." In Di Stefano's 11 years with Real, from '53-64, the club won eight Spanish league titles and five European Champions Cups and was voted European player of the year in '57 and '59. The French journalists "described his game best by calling him omnipresent." He was a "genius with the spirit of a guerilla." Di Stefano, nicknamed the "Blond Arrow," played for five years with Argentine goalkeeper ROGELIO DOMINGUEZ at Real. Domínguez said of Di Stefano, "He was the best player in the world because he did not have 100 percent of one thing, but he had 85 percent of everything." Prior to playing for Real Madrid, Di Stefano "grew into a star" with Argentine side River Plate and Colombian side Millonarios (AS, 7/7). In London, Huw Tubervill reported a medical team "had battled for nearly 20 minutes to revive the 88-year-old after his heart and breathing stopped while he was eating with his family near Real Madrid's Bernabeu Stadium." He had been hospitalized "seven times for similar episodes, and underwent emergency quadruple heart by-pass surgery after suffering a major heart attack" in '05. He was the "complete player, adept in defence, midfield or attack, and is spoken of in the same breath" as PELE and DIEGO MARADONA. Pele said in '09, "People argue between Pele or Maradona. For me, Di Stefano is the best. He was much more complete." Born in Buenos Aires to Italian parents, Di Stefano also managed River Plate as well as its Argentine rival Boca Juniors and La Liga side Valencia, among other clubs, after his playing career (TELEGRAPH, 7/7).
TRIBUTES POUR IN: ESPN's Dermot Corrigan wrote Di Stefano was "one of the greatest players of the 20th century, and an outstanding personality in the history of one of the world's biggest clubs." The Spanish FA, Argentine FA, Barcelona and "many other clubs also issued statements of condolence." Real Madrid said on its official website that FIFA President SEPP BLATTER and UEFA President MICHEL PLATINI had contacted Real President FLORENTINO PEREZ over the weekend to "pass on their support and concern after Di Stefano fell into a coma." Spain coach VICENTE DEL BOSQUE said, "I had him as a coach in my last stage as a player, I knew him well so of course I am so sorry for the loss. Of course I send my best wishes to his family and his circle and also to all madridismo, for whom it is such a sad day." CRISTIANO RONALDO tweeted, "Don Alfredo leaves us, but his memory will last forever in our hearts. Legends never die. Thanks for everything Maestro. #EternoAlfredo." (ESPN, 7/7). AS reported many "well-known figures" from Real Madrid and the world of football "have paid homage to Di Stefano via Twitter."
La Liga side Espanyol's ÁLEX FERNÁNDEZ: "DEP Don Alfredo Di Stefano...mucho animo a familiares y amigos, se va una leyenda..." ("RIP Don Alfredo Di Stefano, a lot of encouragement to family and friends, a legend leaves").
Real Madrid basketball player NIKOLA MIROTIC: "Adiós, Don Alfredo. Leyenda blanca hasta la eternidad. Descansa en paz." ("Goodbye, Don Alfredo. White [Real] legend forever. Rest in peace").
The Argentine national team: "Murió Alfredo Di Stéfano, una gloria del fútbol mundial." ("Alfredo Di Stéfano, a delight of world football, died") (AS, 7/7).
Welsh rugby "has suffered another significant blow" with the news that GERALD DAVIES, the "hugely respected former Wales and British and Irish Lions wing, is to stand down from the board of directors of the Welsh Rugby Union." Davies "will not seek re-election to the board, having served as a national representative on it since 2005." Davies, who also sat on the Int'l Rugby Board, "was seen as the voice of reason in the ever-complex politics of Welsh rugby and it seems highly probable that he has decided to step down through frustration with the way the game in Wales is currently being run" under CEO ROGER LEWIS and Chair DAVID PICKERING (London TELEGRAPH, 7/3). ... Turkish top flight football club Galatasaray has appointed former Italy Manager CESARE PRANDELLI as its new coach. The Istanbul-based club, which had held an "exchange of ideas" with former ManU Manager DAVID MOYES, was "looking for a new coach after parting company" with Italian tactician ROBERTO MANCINI last month. Prandelli "resigned as Italy boss after the national team's 1-0 defeat to Uruguay at the World Cup" (PA, 7/7). ... Serie A side Chievo Sporting Dir GIOVANNI SARTORI resigned from his position. Sartori "spent the last 22 years with the Gialloblu" and, alongside President LUCA CAMPEDELLI, "is credited with constructing the teams that various coaches through the years have managed to keep afloat in Serie A." Reports quickly emerged on Monday morning that "he was considering a break from the game and have been followed up by the club’s own official confirmation" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 7/7). ... British bookmaker William Hill on Friday appointed Dir JAMES HENDERSON, who has been with the company for almost three decades, as its new CEO. William Hill Chair GARETH DAVIS said Henderson came out "head and shoulders" on top of a list of around 14 "credible candidates" to succeed RALPH TOPPING (London TELEGRAPH, 7/4). ... Former La Liga side Real Betis Manager JUAN CARLOS GARRIDO has been named Egyptian side Al Ahly's new coach (EL CONFIDENCIAL, 7/7).
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Outfielder NA SUNG-BUM of the NC Dinos "leads th All-Star voting for the Korea Baseball Organization." The 24-year-old received "968,013 votes from fans and another 193 votes from KBO coaches and fellow players" (KOREA HERALD, 7/7). ... Bangladesh Cricket Board President NAZMUL HASSAN on Monday said that the organization suspended cricketer SHAKIB AL HASAN for six months due to a "severe attitude problem." Hassan said, "He has a severe attitude problem, which is unprecedented in the history of Bangladesh cricket." Shakib, who "is one of Bangladesh’s finest cricketers, could not be contacted for comment" (AFP, 7/7). ... Algeria national football team coach VAHID HALILHODZIC on Sunday "confirmed his departure from the job despite presidential pleas that he stay on after taking the North African nation to the knockout phase of the World Cup finals for the first time." Halilhodzic "received a personal plea" from Algeria President ABDELAZIZ BOUTEFLIKA "to stay after the squad were given a hero's welcome in Algiers on Wednesday." Halilhodzic confirmed his departure, saying "family obligations and the lure of new sporting challenges weighed heavily in my choice" (REUTERS, 7/7).
SCHUMACHER MEDICAL FILES: Prosecuters said on Monday that France "has tracked down the IP address of the computer used by the alleged thief" of MICHAEL SCHUMACHER's medical records, "locating it in a Swiss holicopter firm" that had reportedly been due to transport the seven-time F1 champion. A report summarizing Schumacher's "treatment after he suffered a devastating ski accident in December was stolen and offered for sale last month." French police "opened a criminal probe into the theft of the document" (AFP, 7/7).
London Guardian's OWEN GIBSON: "Reuters say Nike to pull out of Man Utd talks. Was told a while ago execs unimpressed with Utd's negotiating style and clauses in contract."
Bloomberg' TARIQ PANJA: "Vanishing spray producers say each can costs $5 and fifa given about 400 free for world cup. Great free advertising mind"
AP's STEVE WILSON: "IOC exec Felli on '22 bids: `We lost good cities b/c of the bad perception' of IOC. `We have to learn...The ones to be blamed is the IOC.’"
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